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AFN Impact: Advocating and Educating Through Transition

Over the course of her career, Jaclyn Rodriguez (BSN, BS, RN, SANE-A, SANE-P) was inspired to be a change agent and pioneer in new pathways for forensic nursing practice. In 2005, after attending SANE training in Fort Wayne, Indiana, she related that the course spoke to her inner voice and spirit of inquiry about genetics and DNA. Her quest for learning focused on a master’s in forensic science or a nursing degree. Regardless, she was living her personal and professional mission!

Rodriguez is a seasoned professional with over 25 years as a registered nurse and 21 years of working in the emergency department. Her extensive experience equips her with the knowledge and skills to provide insightful and expert guidance to those who have the opportunity to work with her.

Rodriguez spent eight years as the SANE coordinator for the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, where she worked with attorneys and deployed SANE training and education to registered nurses across the state. Her work with attorneys enabled her to explain in detail what forensic nurses do and why they do it in specific ways. She was mentored by an attorney, Cindy Hora, who presented the new role in the AG’s office to her, as it was a transition from clinical practice to a political position during her time with Lisa Madigan’s office (Attorney General in Illinois, 2003–2019).

Her work in the AG’s office was not just about training and education; it was also about advocacy and improving processes for patients impacted by violence. She fell in love with the legislative process, as well as learning and acquiring advocacy skills, negotiating, and consensus-building ways to improve processes for patients who were impacted by violence.

During her time in the AG’s office, she was always contemplating why legislative issues addressed genital touching as requiring a higher level of care than what was needed by any person who was a victim of violence. However, due to her personal style and career mission, she built trusted and respectful relationships among those she worked with.

Rodriguez shared a highlight of her work from 2016–2017 when she worked with stakeholders on an important update to a standard timeline associated with pediatric evidence collection in child-abuse cases. Her work also included the fact that a medical forensic exam was much more than collecting swabs for evidence. The work amended the scope of the exam to include photography, history taking, and clothing collection. The timeline also accounted for the emotional needs of a family and child in crisis—specifying that ongoing care and support needed be included in the care-planning discharge instructions and referrals.

Over the past year, Rodriguez has transitioned to a private practice in forensic nursing. In that role, she offers training and education and has partnered with a simulation center to support learners in applying their knowledge and skills to case-based scenarios. Her programming has been expanded beyond SANE training to cover a full scope of practice in forensic nursing and its sub-specialties. Her educational audiences include nurses, emergency-department staff, advocates, and law enforcement.

Her vision for the consulting practice is represented in the name, ForMed Insight, which combines forensic and medical approaches. Her deliverables include providing content on sexual assault examinations and associated care and interpersonal violence, both with a systems approach that affords a comprehensive array of topics and inclusivity. Her work also addresses non-fatal strangulation examination and the mechanisms of injury and harm. She just completed a scholarly project on interpersonal violence, to be published later this year.

Rodriguez’s passion for forensic nursing is not just a profession, it's a calling. Her various experiences in the practice of forensic nursing demonstrate that transitions create opportunities!

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